Designer Spotlight: Ben Ibanez - Creating Captivating Interiors
It is the evolution of space that gives Ben Ibanez, a residential and commercial designer for for FCI Interiors in the UK, satisfaction. “It is very rewarding when a client calls you and tells you how good it feels to live in their new home after a long and intricate renovation,” he said. “Even if I've simply helped them to redecorate a room, I get to see how transforming an interior can really improve someone's daily family life.”
He also enjoys the relationships he has built during his career. “Many of my clients have become friends,” he said. “We meet for dinners and even fly together to various design festivals.”
Ibanez always wanted to work in interior design. Even before he entered the career, he bought interior design magazines to read on flights. At the University of Seville from 2005 to 2010, he studied building engineering, but eventually opted to explore his more creative side.
His first design job was at Harrods in 2012, working for Louis Vuitton. Ibanez learned how to provide the luxury customer service experience, and eventually managed projects for the furniture department. “My inauguration into this lifestyle is something that has stayed with me and defined my career ever since,” he said.
He next worked with Natuzzi Italia, first at Harrods and then in its head office. Then in June 2015, Ibanez joined FCI. The job furthered his reach, allowing him to source any furniture band on the market.
“The fact that we have access to all these incredible brands allows us the chance to find the perfect piece that suits a client's space or requirements without limitations or restrictions,” he explained. “So we can provide an interior design service where we listen to and understand someone's ideals and desires, no matter how complex they may be, and then we transform their space to make them a reality.”
Ibanez with fellow FCI interior designers Reyhaneh Amini (L) and Stella Giorgi
A few of his jobs stand out in his memories. For instance, his first collaboration with Rina Patel at Vastu Design, refreshing a private home in London. "It was also my first big project at FCI and Rina and I worked so well together, it was such a joy,” he said.
Other projects include working with Priya Patel from Smart Homes on two luxury developments in Nairobi, Kenya. “These were our first projects in Kenya that came out of my objective to expand FCI further into the African market,” said Ibanez. “It's the start of something very new and exciting for us.”
His design process varies depending on the client and the project’s objectives. “Some clients give us complete freedom to choose everything, which makes the process easier.,” said Ibanez. “We'll then usually create 3D visuals to show them several options of how their home might look, depending on the different mood boards we have presented.”
The longest turnaround time for a project was the Riviera development in Nairobi, which took two years to go from mood boards to complete installation. Ibanez continually seeks design inspiration for his work: visiting European furniture and design fairs, looking up designer trends online and by having in-depth conversation with clients to ascertain how they want their home to be.
To understand what a client wants, Ibanez tries to spend time with them, chatting about the aspects of their lives that will impact the project. “We get to know their family situation, what they enjoy doing or would like to do at home and how they would like to use each space in their house,” he said. “Then we look at different design styles together and slowly start showing them some pieces, taking into account their reactions. And we take it from there in each room.”
In the next three years, Ibanez would like to see FCI expand its design work in Nairobi. “It’s a great city and I enjoy their culture and way of living,” he said. “It's very similar to how we live back in Jerez in Spain, where I am from. It's very family-oriented and people spend a lot of time outside in gardens and on terraces, always with family and friends. So I would love to continue working on some exciting projects and spend more time there.”
All photos provided by FCI Interiors. If you enjoyed reading this designer profile, you can read others about textile and ceramic designer Jennifer Dallas and sustainable products creator Sarah Bernard.
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